More to our minds than grey matter, show suggests

The theory that cognition – the ability to think and feel – extends beyond the brain to people’s bodies, objects, and even institutions is explored in a new exhibition.

A shimmering tent of gold and silver, giant blue hands signalling ancient warnings, and a guided sensory walk around Edinburgh are among the works that feature in a mind-bending new art show at the University of Edinburgh's Talbot Rice Gallery.

'Extended Mind' features the work of 12 international artists and is named after the idea first developed by eminent philosophers Andy Clark, formerly of the School of PPLS at the University, and David Chalmers, from the Australian National University.

The Extended Mind, and Walk Hands, Eyes (Edinburgh)

2 November 2019 to 1 February 2020

Free entry

Talbot Rice Gallery, University of Edinburgh, South Bridge, EH6 9YL

Symbolic gestures

Visitors are invited to sit in a gold and silver tent created by Athens-based artist Angelo Plessas. The artist describes Karma Dome as a haven from capitalism and a place to connect with people in person rather than online.

Brussel-based artist Marjolijn Dijkman’s work includes a projection of two large virtual hands making symbolic gestures – derived from spiritual practices and military sign systems – designed to predict, remedy or ward off future events.

Sensory walk

The show also features 'Walk, Hands, Eyes (Edinburgh)', a performative, walking presentation by French artist and choreographer Miriam Lefkowitz.

The work takes participants on an immersive guided experience – with their eyes open and shut at different times. The experience highlights how the mind interacts with its environment as it accumulates sensations, sounds and experiences.

The project has already been performed in Bangladesh, Columbia, New York, Paris and Venice.

Places on 'Walk, Hands, Eyes (Edinburgh)' can be booked on Eventbrite:

Walk, Hands, Eyes (Edinburgh) tickets

Shadow puppets

Marcus Coates’ work considers the connection between natural and man-made processes. He has taken 16 casts of his own hands, each created while performing shadow puppetry depicting extinct animals.

Artist Nikolaus Gangsterer’s giant installations 'Following the Fold', made for Talbot Rice Gallery, and the videos untertagüberbau show hand drawings and symbols to represent thought processes.

The Extended Mind reveals real and imagined places, showing how art plays a vital role in scaffolding new forms of understanding, which enable creative thinking beyond the constraints of one’s own imagination.

Tessa GiblinDirector of the Talbot Rice Gallery

Ambiguous meaning

Other works on show include a collage by Joseph Grigely. Deaf since the age of 10, the artist has collected notes that people have written to communicate with him and arranged them so their meaning is ambiguous.

Agnieszka Kurant and John Menick’s 'Production Line' utilises a crowd-sourcing system that remotely employs people to undertake routine tasks. The artists employed the workers to draw a line across their screens and created an algorithm that assembled the contributions. The resultant image, drawn by a pen-plotting machine, imitates a hand-drawn effect.

Research ties

The exhibition is produced in partnership with researchers from a three-year AHRC research project, 'The History of Distributed Cognition', including Senior Lecturer in Philosophy Mark Sprevak.

Related links

The Extended Mind | Talbot Rice Gallery

A History of Distributed Cognition

Mark Sprevak